Mathematical Self-Ignorance and Sophistry

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Abstract

This chapter articulates how Plato equates the good life with activity of the soul and the bad life with its opposite, an equivalence we may track alongside the tropes of wakefulness and sleep. While wakefulness is indicative of both self-knowledge and the good life – a life involving recognition that the relation to Being (especially the being of the virtues) is constitutive of the human soul – sleep serves as a metonym for the self-forgetful life that Plato regularly likens to death. The author addresses the way in which Plato appropriates these contrasting themes from the rich Greek heritage of writers before him – including the three great tragedians, along with Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, and Hippocrates – and transfigures them in dialogues ranging from the Apology to the Republic and the Laws, not to mention the Theaetetus, Statesman, Timaeus, Phaedo, and Meno. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the Platonic tyrant who, haunted by a complete lack of self-knowledge, is the paradigmatic embodiment of sleep and death, never awakens to the profound depth of his own self-ignorance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnowledge and Ignorance of Self in Platonic Philosophy
EditorsJames M. Ambury, Andy German
PublisherCambridge University Press
Chapter9
Pages151-168
ISBN (Print)9781107184466
StatePublished - 2018

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